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Why Is My Cat Licking the Floor? 7 Possible Reasons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

tabby cat lying and licking the floor

As cat owners, we know that cats do weird things sometimes. Most of these behaviors can be brushed off as just plain cat weirdness, but some of them can make us wonder about the motivation behind them. Keeping our cats safe and healthy means paying attention to anything out of the ordinary and knowing when to worry.

Cats lick themselves while grooming. They also may lick other cats or pets as a way of social bonding. When cats start licking objects, though, it can be perplexing, especially if they’re licking the floor.

This behavior doesn’t automatically mean something is wrong, but there are multiple reasons that cats do this. In this article, we look at those reasons and let you know which ones are harmless and which ones may indicate a potential problem. Then, we go over how to stop this behavior. Let’s get started.

The Top 5 Harmless Reasons That Your Cat Is Licking the Floor

Cats lick the floor for many reasons, and many of them are harmless. Whether your cat is bored, searching for food, or just enjoying what they’re doing, here are harmless reasons that your cat is licking the floor.

1. They Just Like It

Sometimes the simplest answer is what’s happening. The texture of the floor may be attractive to your cat. Flooring is made of composite materials that cats can taste as they lick it. Plastic flooring may contain products such as beef tallow and gelatin. Cats can detect these smells and lick the floor as a result.

Wood flooring is smooth and cool, and cats lick this flooring because they enjoy the texture and temperature. Cats like to lick smooth surfaces, and the floor is a large smooth area that they have constant access to.

Concrete or cement floors have a rough texture that is new and interesting to cats. They may lick these floors just to check out the feel of them and wind up enjoying the sensation.

tabby cat licking its lips
Image Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

2. They Found a Different Water Source

Cats like to seek out different water sources. That’s why you’ll sometimes see them drink from a faucet or lick water out of a sink. When condensation builds up on your floors, they’ll find it. If your cat is licking a floor with either spilled or condensed water on it, they are likely just enjoying their newfound hydration source.

Even if your cat has a fresh bowl of water available, they may prefer the water that’s pooled on the bathroom floor. However, this could also be a sign that your cat isn’t getting enough water. If you notice this behavior from your cat, make sure they have access to clean, fresh water bowls. If they still choose to lick the water from the floor, you’ll know that it’s harmless and just something that they like to do.


3. They’re Anxious

Cats lick themselves while grooming, but licking can also be a calming action for them. Cats find grooming to be a reassuring action, and licking can then become a habit whenever the cat feels stressed, anxious, scared, or even bored. It’s a way for them to self-soothe.

The licking behavior can then transfer to other things. If a cat stops licking themselves, they may move to an object nearest them, like a table leg or the carpet. They may even start to lick the bare floor.

If you notice that your cat is acting anxious or stressed, try to pinpoint the source. You can help your cat stay calm and reduce their anxious licking.

anxious looking tabby cat
Image Credit: StockSnap, Pixabay

4. They Found a Spill

If we spill or drop food on the floor, we may not be able to get rid of it all just by wiping it up. Cats can seek out these spots from the scents that they leave behind. You may notice that your cat is licking the floor in the same spot where you spilled chicken soup or dropped a few crumbs of toast.

When cats lick the floor around their food bowls, they may be searching for any remnants of their previous meal. It could mean they are just trying to get all that they can, or it could mean they’re hungry and are trying to let you know.


5. They Have Behavioral Issues

Cats that lick the floor may have an obsessive disorder that makes them do it. While this isn’t necessarily dangerous for your cat, you may want to consult your vet to talk about treatment options. Changing your cat’s routine and giving them prescribed medication can help stop this behavior.

grey tabby cat sticking tongue out while lying on the floor
Image Credit: Jake Pause, Shutterstock

The Top 2 Reasons of When to Worry

Sometimes, it’s not harmless fun when your cat is licking the floor. Here are a few reasons to pay attention to and be aware of to keep your cat safe and healthy. If you notice these or any other abnormal behaviors in your cat, contact your veterinarian to discuss them.

6. They Have Pica

Pica is a condition where a person or animal has an urge to eat items that are not edible. In cats, pica can start with licking inedible objects and move on to them consuming items that can cause intestinal blockages and illnesses. These can be rubber bands, ribbons, plastic bags, and fabric material. Cats with pica have been known to chew and consume pieces of terry cloth bath towels, resulting in medical emergencies.

If your cat is licking the floor and moves on to licking and chewing other items, they may have this condition. Sometimes the cause is a lack of nutrients in your cat’s diet. However, there are several other factors that veterinarians believe can cause pica. If you see your cat trying to chew or eat inedible items, contact your vet for an evaluation and to talk about a possible diet change.


7. They Smell Chemicals

Your cat might be drawn to the cleaner that you use on your floor, and this can be dangerous. If your cat is licking chemical cleaners off the floor, this is toxic and can make them sick. Cats should be kept out of the room while you’re cleaning and only be allowed back in when the floor is dry.

Cats don’t have to lick the chemicals off the floor to be affected by them. Even walking on a wet floor and then licking their paws can be poisonous to them. Keep all cleaners out of your cat’s reach, and don’t allow them near a freshly cleaned surface until it’s dry.

gray tabby cat sniffing the floor
Image Credit: Appreciate, Shutterstock

Things to Consider When Your Cat Is Licking the Floor

If your cat is licking the floor for harmless reasons, you may not be concerned at all. However, here are a few things to consider when this is happening.

When Did It Start?

Has your cat been licking the floor since the day you got them? If they’ve always licked the floor, they could be doing it out of habit or simply because they like it.

If this is a new behavior, it doesn’t mean there’s a reason to be concerned. But you can try to figure out why it’s happening. Did you recently move or add another pet to the house? Your cat could be anxious or upset.

When Does It Occur?

The timing of this behavior can offer a clue to the cause. If your cat always licks the floor around mealtime, they may be letting you know that they’re hungry. If your cat always licks the floor during a thunderstorm, they may fear the noise.

Is the Floor Dirty?

If you know that your cat licks the floor, you may want to vacuum more regularly to keep dust, debris, and objects out of their reach. Licking up dirt from shoes, scattered litter, and other objects can cause illness.

If you are concerned at all about this behavior, talking to your vet is the best way to figure out why it’s happening and what can be done about it.

a young red tabby cat sniffing the floor
Image Credit: Alex Konon, Shutterstock

How Do I Stop My Cat From Licking the Floor?

If you’d like to discourage this behavior after you’ve ruled out any health issues, here are a few things that you can try.

Increase Play

If cats are bored and restless, they will find things to do that may not be desirable, like licking the floor. Increasing your cat’s mental and physical stimulation can give them something else to focus on that is way more exciting than floor licking. It also tires them out.

Redirect Them

When the cat starts to lick the floor, redirect their attention using treats, food, or toys. Encourage your cat to seek out other areas by placing treats there, and reward them with catnip and play when they ignore the floor.

Change Your Cleaner

If you use a product to clean your floor that attracts your cat, swap it out for one that isn’t as tasty. Citrus products may not be as attractive to cats as those with bleach or ammonia.

Add More Water Bowls

If cats are licking water off the floor, consider providing them with more water sources. Cats like to seek out their water. Some prefer fountains with moving water. These may encourage your cat to drink more water than a standing bowl does.

Final Thoughts

Cats lick the floor for many reasons. Some of these are completely harmless, while others call for a visit to the vet.

If your cat is licking the floor harmlessly, there’s no reason to be concerned, but you can try to stop this behavior by giving your cat other things to do.

If the licking is caused by a medical reason, you and your vet can create a plan to stop it and help your cat feel better too. That said, licking is often just something that cats like to do. Paying attention to any changes in your cat’s behavior to address potential issues will keep them happy and healthy.


Featured Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

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